Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Steve Jobs is a genius; Diane Mermigas not far behind

Not everyone was quick to praise the new Nike-iPod shoe. But that doesn't mean they've somehow escaped the Reality Distortion Field. Impossible! No, it simply means they're probably not runners, not in this particular target and that they'll just have to wait while Apple finalizes a blogger iPod.

In the meantime, Diane Mermigas explains the true meaning of it all: "The Apple-Nike initiative is evidence of what is possible when even unlikely allies study and respond to detailed data about how technology-empowered consumers spend their money and time....something as mundane as a pair of running shoes can be transformed into a multimedia center that supports consumer habits and preferences in ways never before imagined. All it took was Apple realizing that more than half of its estimated 45 million iPod owners use the device in their routine workouts...."

This is a good article and Mermigas is pretty brainy. Not just anyone can go from running shoes to cellphones to the death of network TV in just a few paragraphs.

The only false note: "'All kinds of consumer data are up for grabs, and all of it is becoming increasingly important,' Forrester analyst Nikki Baird writes in a Trends 2006 report. 'That includes identifying the consumer and tying all online and offline transactional information together with behavioral information.'" Which sounds so yummy and fun but transactional data means credit card data and until companies can demonstrate the ability to safeguard that info, those plans may have to wait.

Better stick with Jobs.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Get your Dept of Transportation action figures today

As junk food becomes the new cigarette, movie promo tie-ins are changing. So pay no attention to the McDonalds partnerships behind the curtain. Instead, enjoy these attempts at, um, fun:

"Budweiser is hosting a 'National Break Up Day' microsite for the Jennifer Anniston film that includes such features as community postings of the worst break-up stories and the best ways to break up; compatibility quizzes, e-cards and other viral tools to facilitate actual breakups and a 'photochop' application that allows users to scratch, replace, burn, tear or mark up the faces of their former loves. MasterCard's promotion includes a special edition Zagat guide incorporating ideal restaurants for breakups that will be inserted into magazines."

From Frank Oz to Mimi

We now know what, exactly, inspires the Pepsi creative team.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Faye Dunaway breaks my heart

Was this really necessary? If only she'd shown some measure of restraint, she could have had a glamorous and lucrative endorsement deal.

Which reminds me. Ever since I saw Angie Dickinson on Celebrity Poker Showdown, I've felt like I finally found a role model in life. Thassa dame!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I believe that children are our target demographic

A quick look at tweens "who control $39 billion in purchasing power of their own and influence tens of billions more in family buying decisions, according to a study by Packaged Facts."

Honestly, I think the Washington Post dropped the ball here. Despite supplying factoids like "77 percent of 9- to 14-year-olds have TVs in their bedrooms....Some 59 percent have video-game systems, 49 percent have a DVD player," they fail to remind us that kids are fat because of advertising. I mean, you might read the article and mistakenly assume obesity could be related to inactive lifetsyles or some similar myth.

There's no doubting the power of tween girls though. Remember that tonight if McPhee wins.

Years later, the fin de siecle spirit is still with us

Now see, this is why I love the NYPost. A story about sponsored party houses would be interesting enough:

"As a Hamptons business model - co-branding a summer house with a nightclub, then soliciting corporations to sponsor the house through stealth advertising (stocking the fridge with booze, furnishing every room, supplying next year's luxury cars) - it's hardly new....Marquee's Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss perfected the concept with the PlayStation House in 2001."

But only the Post can capture the telling details that make satire completely unnecessary:

"'B-list promoters are also doing houses - the Hampton Bays sort of crowd....I heard Hawaiian Tropic gave [promoter] Brantley Harrison a chunk of money,' Cardosa continues, 'but I'm not really into the Hawaiian Tropic crowd.... Those girls can look a little bit like strippers. I'll never have guidos or big DJs that draw a crowd - that's Pink Elephant. Not to put anybody down.'"

Oh no. Not to put anybody down.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Decision 06: jiggly vs cheesy

I'm so nervous about tonight's Idol final I can barely type but I think Carlos Mencia says it best: "I don't care who wins as long as Paula stops crying. I swear to God I feel like I'm watching Spanish television."

And with any luck, McPhee'll be drunk!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Fighting the visual plague that is the faux stirrup sock

Adult-oriented discussions of logo creep, thought-provoking beer ad critiques and -- my personal favorite -- baseball stirrups talk. Clearly, I cannot recommend the new Uni Watch blog highly enough.

Dell fails to understand the meaning of "relationship"

Part of NorthPark's shiny new mall expansion will include a Dell storefront and apparently it's exactly what we've all been yearning for: "'Consumers want to have a deeper relationship with Dell,' said Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester Research. 'All the stars are in alignment for this to be successful, for it to work, if Dell can execute.'"

I don't know about that deeper relationship so much, but let's be generous. Dell's gotta do something. And while you might be tempted to think they're simply copying the Apple store -- getting shoppers excited about computers as "storage bins for their photos and personal files, entertainment centers" -- there will in fact be a key difference. The Dell store will have no inventory.

Yeah, I had to re-read that too.

You know, maybe if you live in Hayward, Wisconsin, you can appreciate a retail concept patterned after the Sears catalog store. In Dallas? At NorthPark? That might be rough.

Your long memory surprises Mr Pressler

It's like Gap's CEO isn't even trying any more: "On the late-day conference call with analysts and investors, Pressler vowed again, nearly verbatim from prior calls, that he and other top executives at the apparel giant 'remain confident in our turnaround strategies under way in each of our businesses.' Repeating promises he made in both the third and fourth quarters of the last fiscal year, the chief executive said that the tide would turn...."

It gets better: the "American-casual style that people have so long associated with Gap would be back and prove popular again, according to Pressler. The missed fashion trends (think embellished denim) are a thing of the past. Advertising will be back in its full, powerful force and Old Navy is even looking for a replacement to the Magic the Dog mascot."

Dog = solid recovery plan? Yeah it does!

Better cross your fingers for the online shoe store.

Friday, May 12, 2006

We are the ones who make a brighter day so let's start trading

I admit it: for the longest time, I've had a big bag of nothing.

But if I did have something, I'd swap it. Because "Changing The World With Other People's Stuff(TM)" is pure genius.

UPDATE: New, improved link for faster, more accurate trading! And yes, it's all too, too real!

Does this news make me look fat?

The people must have their JCPenney private label clothes. We can only pray that doesn't include gauchos.

I don't know what this development means, though. Does it confirm or contradict earlier news that women aren't buying the new bony-ass look?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

How are your implants holding up?

The Byron Nelson starts today. You got your pavilion pass, right?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Trademarking the Smiley Face: the stupidest legal action ever

WalMart wants exclusive rights to use the icon but, to be fair, it's only because a London company is forcing the issue.

By the way, if you haven't yet claimed to have originated the Smiley Face, you need to get with the program.

Creative people are the biggest drunks ever

A discussion about Portfolio Night turns into an unseemly display of self-loathing. Or victimhood. Or overthinking. I can't decide which until I talk to my therapist.

Real estate ads have the most deceptive copy ever

So learn how to decode those adjectives.

Jon Lovitz is the best celebrity ever

Quick. Let's talk about this before they force a Jared appearance on us and ruin everything.

Do you think you'd even notice the Subway spots if it weren't for Jon Lovitz? Me neither. But I watch not because it's Jon Lovitz The Star, but because it's Jon Lovitz A Talented Comedian. Close your eyes and listen to him. The way he sings out "new" during the product descriptions? Masterful, in its way.

Of course, I realize not everyone will agree. But look, it could be worse.

Mark Fields is the most quotable car executive ever

Unlike Bill Ford who emerges only once a year to make a commercial -- and yes, if he does see his own spot, it means six more weeks of gloomy sales -- Mark Fields is a Ford executive who actually goes out in public. He meets with dealers (brave). He's "broad-shouldered" (sigh). He tosses bones to car enthusiasts (he cares!). He says all the right things:

"'We have to shift from an entitlement mentality to one of going out and competing.'"

So luck to him. No, really. Good luck to him.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Impossible Jump: most likely better than the movie it hyped

What shocked you most about last night's ESPN special:

--that Suzy Kolber, long before being accosted on air by Joe Namath, was a family friend of the Knievels

--that Linda Evans shot the Caesars footage of Evel Knievel's horrific, man-reduced-to-rag-doll landing

--that ESPN turned over their flagship channel for a 60-minute promotion of a Tom Cruise movie

Oh wait. You didn't watch, did you? What stopped you -- personal standards? Life? Root canal?

The sun shines bright on my old sponsorship deal

The Yum Kentucky Derby deal will be tastefully executed -- they promise! -- but let's still give thanks that Charlsie Cantey is, after all these years, spared the humiliation of actually saying "the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum Brands."

Also, let's salute the remaining marquee events that haven't given in just yet:

"Few sporting events have the history and prestige of the Derby, and fewer still remain unaffixed with a corporate nametag at this late date. One obvious candidate is the Indianapolis 500....'You can never say never, but under current ownership and management I don't see that happening,' said Indy 500 spokesman Ron Green. 'It is known worldwide and has elevated the status of the community. It means a great deal not only to the city leaders but to the Speedway's ownership. That's a fact of which we are quite proud. The Indy 500 is just not for sale.' The automobile race and the track where it is run are privately held, owned by the family that makes, among other things, Clabber Girl baking powder. Other events in the same league with the Run for the Roses might be the Masters golf tournament or the U.S. Open of tennis -- both also free of the highest level of sponsorship."

Wait. The Masters? Even without Hootie?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

We have only ourselves to blame

Turns out "Snakes On A Plane" will be instructive for studios and agencies alike: "With the impossible story line and hokey computer-generated snakes, fans clearly find something honestly refreshing about a film that is aware of its own stupidity."

Just make sure you're up on your Snakes knowledge. Because the promotional opportunities are endless!


So Kobe's a UFC fan? Sweet! Then again, what member of the 18-45 male demo isn't? But does Ultimate Fighting really have such a smart business plan, that it could be bigger than boxing? Maybe. Especially since "UFC doesn't have the ring deaths to turn off the tree-huggers and soccer moms."

Also: no Don King. Because wherever Don King is, there crazy is also.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The lively mind of Norma Kamali

It's official. After all these years of suspecting it, we can now confirm that Norma Kamali is the coolest person ever. Gorgeous. Yoda-like in her wisdom. And able to discuss modern marketing with refreshing charm: "she introduced her still-popular 'Shop Like a Celebrity' service and began direct marketing to clients via the internet ('Many people in the fashion industry still don't even know how to use e-mail, and I'm like, "Are you serious?! I'm shocked. Totally shocked."')."

I demand that Kamali begin podcasting, nay vlogging, rightthisminute.

Sirius money

I don't get all the implications of news like this but doesn't it seem like Sirius has racked up some mind-bendingly huge operating costs? Doesn't it seem like they sink a lot of money into attracting subscribers? Is George Steinbrenner running this thing?

Oh I'll buy it anyway

Mixed reviews for Blueprint. I'll try not to take it personally that this is the most favorable comment so far: "There's not an overwhelming amount of ads."

Monday, May 01, 2006

Here I thought the only burning that could save Blockbuster involved insurance fraud

Like anyone else who isn't employed there, I enjoy the Blockbuster Death Watch. The combination of Hollywood, hubris and business incompetence is simply too irresistible. So when linked to a very thorough Blockbuster vs NetFlix analysis, I was at first excited. Then halfway into it, my Liberal Arts brain seized up. I fought through that. And found this nugget:

"The only way that I can see Blockbuster expand revenue...would be for them to negotiate the rights to do burn on demand DVDs at kiosk locations nationwide. Blockbuster has had some success at negotiating revenue sharing arrangements with the studios and if they could offer a business model where you could go to your favorite supermarket and burn any of 50,000 DVDs on demand or ahead of time, then the company could survive the digital transition."

Interesting. Combine that with the penny-converter kiosk and I'm in!

Honestly though, all you need to know about Blockbuster is that AJ Soprano works there. Just another confused character trying to keep up in a fast-changing world. Good Lord, if there's one thing David Chase is going to make you understand this season, it's obsolete business models.

A dog's breakfast

I love dogs. Love them. Love. Them. And it's as a devoted and lifelong dog-lover that I make this observation: dogs eat their own crap. They eat cat crap. They eat rotted fruit, candy wrappers, ribbon, plastic bottles and any manner of trash they can find along their walk. Though it often makes them sick, they never do learn.

So who, exactly, is gourmet dog food, for? "'There's a fairly large consumer segment that has an innate need to please their dog with a human-like food.'"

Cling to that innate need. It may provide some comfort as you scold your dog for licking at bird droppings.

Man Laws? Well, OK.

The latest Miller campaign may prove that Norman Adami really was sorry about all those bad ads. It may mean that last year's beer sales were so dismal, brewers will try anything.

Or maybe "Man Laws" is just Alex Bogusky's well-done take on an idea that is not all that new.

Keys to success: wider aisles, a religious holiday

The predictions of Parija Bhatnagar notwithstanding, it was a good April for WalMart.

And that must just suck for some people.